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Sadiq Khan confirms creation of City Hall-owned housing developer if re-elected

Sadiq Khan has confirmed that he will create a City Hall-owned housing developer if he is re-elected for an historic third term.

The aim would be to ensure that housing schemes are brought forward on plots of land where private developers and local authorities have been unable to get homes started.

The mayor had already promised to “pilot” such a developer in his current term.

In his 2021 re-election manifesto, Mr Khan wrote: “Because I’m determined to do everything in my power to tackle the shortfall in genuinely affordable homes in London, I’ll take action not seen for a generation in London and pilot a new City Hall developer to start directly building the low-cost homes Londoners need.”

However, a review commissioned by Mr Khan and carried out by the late Lord Kerslake in 2022, suggested that the mayor establish the ‘City Hall developer’ in the next mayoral term.

Lord Kerslake said the new body could be created in two phases, with the first phase being the expansion and strengthening of City Hall’s existing housing delivery mechanisms.

Mr Khan confirmed that the second phase – creating of the new developer – will take place if he is re-elected in May.

The Labour mayor said that his deputy for housing, Tom Copley, has been “obsessed” with bringing the plans to life.

“The sorts of things we’re looking at is where there’s a gap, where a council or a housing association or a developer may not take forward a scheme that maybe City Hall can take forward,” said Mr Khan.

“What we don’t want to do is become a developer for the sake of doing it – it’s about adding value, and if we can add value, we’ll definitely do it [intervene at key housing sites].”

He added: “Imagine if there’s a piece of land that’s owned by one GLA [Greater London Authority] functional body [such as Transport for London], another owned by another part [of the GLA], or the local authority, or a private developer.

“Working together, we can make some real progress – where at the moment there might be sort of a ‘turf war’ taking place. We’re a trusted friend, a trusted ally, who can rise above some of the potential tensions that can exist.”

Similar plans were proposed last week by Mr Khan’s Liberal Democrat rival Rob Blackie, who said such a body would “fill in the gaps” left by the private market, with a particular focus on publicly-owned land and setting conditions to prioritise homes for key workers.

Tory candidate Susan Hall has not made her position clear on whether she would take forward Lord Kerslake’s recommendation. Her campaign team was approached for comment.

Ms Hall has said on housing that she wants to “stop Sadiq Khan’s inappropriate tower blocks” and instead “build family homes”. She has promised to relaunch the London Land Commission, to identify brownfield sites where more homes can be built.

Green candidate Zoe Garbett said she would also follow Lord Kerslake’s recommendation, but would have certain conditions set in relation to affordability and environmental impact.

She said: “This is using public money, so the homes must benefit Londoners and I would want to see at least half of what this developer builds being genuinely affordable homes. And these new homes must be built to the highest environmental standards which will mean energy bills are affordable for residents in the future.”

The London mayoral election is on Thursday, May 2, along with elections to the London Assembly.

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